Speech: Nick Ashooh, 2012 Corporate Honoree


TERESA MCWAIN: Thank you, Keith, and good evening. We all know that first impressions are lasting and early experiences are as well. So, I’ll share a couple of early experiences I had with Nick Ashooh that still make me smile.

When Nick first arrived at American Electric Power, he had arranged for lunch in our executive dining room with all of his direct reports. And this was an opportunity for us to get to know Nick better and for Nick to get to know us. Nick was dressed in a dark, very dark business suit, much like he is tonight, and in a very white shirt, starched.

And before he gave us insights into his experience and his management style, he first taught us something that I have never forgotten. He said, let me tell you how to pronounce my name. It is Ashooh. It is pronounced like and it rhymes with cashew. And I never forgot that. And so, Nick, I can’t tell you how many times I have repeated that line to others so that they would pronounce your name correctly.

Also, during that lunch, he told us, he promised us that we would never see him dressed business casual. Well, Nick was at the company about seven years, and I’ll just say when he left he had an entirely new wardrobe.

Nick brought big ideas to AEP, and he was a refreshing addition to our company. He brought a vision to really reposition and freshen up the brand and to really make AEP stand out among energy players.

What I remember most was his mentorship of me as he secured a sponsorship with Cirque de Soleil. AEP sponsored the North American tours, and it became the centerpiece of a national advertising campaign. And still today, many years later, in fact, almost a decade later, I still get questions and positive feedback about that campaign. So, thank you, Nick, for letting me play such a major role in it with you.

When I reflect on Nick’s leadership style, it’s easy to speak about him. I respect most four leadership traits that Nick, I believe, exudes. He never patronizes his associates. He treats everyone with respect, managing up, down, and across the same way, always.

Nick doesn’t micromanage. He presumes his staff knows how to do what they’re there to do. And we all know that Nick is always cool, calm, and collected under pressure. And most important, he listens and he leads.

Today, Nick continues to be my mentor. He’s there for professional advice, and he gives pretty good child-rearing insights as well. I’m proud to call him mentor and friend, and I am delighted to present this award tonight to Nick Ashooh.


NICK ASHOOH: Teresa, thanks very much. It is true, I had a great breakthrough at AEP. I bought my first blue shirt when I was there. Thank you, Teresa,, very much. You made me look good, you still do.

Thanks to the Plank Center, a wonderful organization, named to carry on the legacy of a wonderful person. I did have the opportunity, the good fortune to meet Betsy, a remarkable person.

I’m very pleased to get this honor because mentoring is important to me. I’m here because many people mentored me during my career, and I didn’t even realize they were mentoring me at the time. Their names I can mention and will. Some of you, many you may not know, but they are very important people to me in my life. One was the late Dallas Hamerlinck, who was an early boss of mine, John Edwards, who was my boss at Public Service of New Hampshire, one of my former professors at Marquette, Bob Ashmore. Marquette’s well-represented here tonight. Lori Bergen, Dean Bergen is here. Good to see you.

And Joyce Hergenhan, who many of you may have known from GE. Gershon Kekst, Kekst and Company, early on in my career, had a very big impact, Harold Burson, Dan Edelman, these are people who were very, very kind to me when I was just getting started.

How wonderful it is to see Jack Koten here tonight. Just terrific, Jack, to see you. And other–


And other real legends, Al Golin, Bruce Harrison is here. I’m sure I’m going to miss people. But all very wonderful people, pioneers in the business, very, very kind to me and made a huge difference to me in my life and still do.

I’ll repeat what others have said, Marjorie and Steve before me, what an honor to be honored with you. Jon Iwata. I haven’t met Ryan yet but hope to. Elizabeth, I think we first met when we were both in Syracuse.

I’m sorry that a colleague, a present colleague of mine today, Libby Archell, was not able to join us. I escaped from the coast of Connecticut this morning, wasn’t really sure I was going to get here. Got the last seat on a plane coming to Chicago, glad to make it.

My colleague, Libby, thought she was going to go to a safer place when she left her place in lower Manhattan and went to Hoboken. And you heard Hoboken was one of the worst-hit places, and she literally couldn’t get out of her building, I think, until yesterday. So, she wasn’t able to join us.

I do have another current colleague with me from Alcoa, Anthony Ashe is here. So glad you could join us, as well, and many, many other good friends.

It’s just– it’s a wonderful thing, although I feel a little bit guilty like I shouldn’t be here. Because it’s sort of like a bunch of kind people have given me $10 million and I’m being honored for being a wealthy man. It’s like, things have been given to me, which have contributed to my success. And mentoring is something that I get so much out of. So, to me, it’s almost selfish that I do it because I enjoy it so much, and I get so much out of it. I think other people taught me about it, and I think that’s why it’s so important to me.

So anyway, enough blabbering. Let me thank you all again. It’s wonderful. If you know me, and people who know me know that I’m happiest when I’m with a bunch of friends and my family. My wife, Brenda, couldn’t be here. I put her on a plane this morning to Atlanta, because we don’t have power in our house, and we probably won’t for a long time. But she– Bill Heyman knows it, Brenda puts up with a lot with me, and 35 years we’ve been married, and she’s been a great support and as has my family as well.

So, thank you to everybody. Thank you to the Plank Center. It’s a great honor. Teresa, again, thank you, and congratulations to everybody else. Thanks.


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